Industry Partners

Prairie Swine Centre is an affiliate of the University of Saskatchewan

Prairie Swine Centre is grateful for the assistance of the George Morris Centre in developing the economics portion of Pork Insight.

Financial support for the Enterprise Model Project and Pork Insight has been provided by:

Author(s): W. H. Close and D.J.A. Cole
Publication Date: January 1, 2004
Reference: Proceedings of the 2004 Manitoba Swine Seminar
Country: Canada


The increase in pigs per sow per year in the past few years has not necessarily been due to more born alive piglets, but to improved production practices. The research and development of new nutritional strategies is a huge contributor to that. Due to current production strategies, many sows do not reach their genetic potential of 50 to 60 piglets per sow’s lifetime. In order for more farms to reach this potential there must be an increase in ovulation/fertilization rate and a decrease in embryo losses, both of which require knowledge of the factors that influence them. In order to do this, the different stages of sow and gilt development need to be analyzed.

For a gilt to have a good reproductive life, the gilt needs to be sufficiently mature and have adequate reserves of fat and lean tissue at first mating. The best way to achieve this is ad lib feeding during growth (“flushing”) to maximize ovulation rate, and then feed restriction for 21 days post-mating. The gilt diet should ensure growth of strong bones and proper vitamins and minerals to ensure a long breeding life. During gestation, sows should be fed to maintain body condition (score of 3.5) and fed high amounts during critical periods of fetal growth. During lactation the sow should be fed to wean 10 piglets while maintaining body condition. Good quality diets should be fed and plenty of water should be drank so the sow can yield an adequate amount of milk. For a prompt return to estrus after weaning sows should be kept on high amounts of lactation feed. Supplementing sow diets with minerals helps to improve litters and maintain sow bodily reserves.

To reduce piglet losses, ensure proper body condition to reduce piglet crushing. Supplementing sow diets with iron helps to increase iron reserves in piglets to reduce incidences of anemia. Sows nutrition should be maximized to upkeep milk yield for healthy immunity in the piglets.

Boars need only to be fed enough to not get too large. Nutrition should ensure maintenance, gain, and sexual development. They require adequate amino acids, vitamins and minerals similar to lactating sows, and certain fats for sperm development.

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